The food we eat is composed of complex mixtures of chemicals, many of which are biologically active. Whether nutritive (vitamins, minerals, fatty acids) or non-nutritive (small-molecule “nutraceuticals” such as phytochemicals or other metabolites), these bioactive substances act as dietary signals that manipulate our highly organized, tightly regulated DNA. While consumers mainly focus on taste, convenience, and price, arguably the most important effects of food occur at the molecular level, gen…

BEYOND NUTRITION The Impact of Food on Genes

Table 1 How nutrients regulate genes

Figure 1 Bioactive ingredients directly from food pass through our cells into the nucleus, where they interact with DNA to effect transcription of RNA and ultimately translation of proteins. In many cases, transcription factors are involved.

Figure 3 Effect of theaflavins from black tea on expression of COX-2, a gene involved in infl ammation and pain, as shown by reverse transcription–PCR and electrophoresis. (A) With no theafl avins, COX-2 is activated in tumor cells, producing substantial mRNA. (B) Theafl avins reduce gene expression and production of mRNA, ultimately lowering production of COX-2.

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In This Article

  1. Food, Health and Nutrition